Previewing The Baton Rouge Regional: Fairfield
The Baton Rouge, La. softball regional gets underway on Friday at Tiger Park, with four teams vying for a trip to the NCAA Super Regionals.
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, making their 19th-consecutive regional appearance, will be part of a field that also includes the LSU Tigers, the top-seed in the regional, and the #13-overall seed, along with the McNeese St. Cowgirls and the Fairfield Stags in the double-elimination event.
Louisiana will take on McNeese St. in the first game of the regional, on Friday at 3 pm, followed by a match-up pitting LSU and Farifield at 5:30 pm.
Today, we preview the Fairfield Stags:
Making their second NCAA tournament appearance, Farifield, the 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion, will be making their second-consecutive regional appearance.
The Stags, who enter the regional with an overall record of 26-26, lost both games that they played in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama a season ago, falling to Alabama and USC-Upstate.
Fairfield is not a team with a lot of power, hitting 15 homers the entire season, as compared to 30 for the opposition.
By contrast, Louisiana will enter this weekend with 83 homers, and have two players, in DJ Sanders (28) and Aleah Craighton (18), who have out-homered the entire Fairfield by themselves.
But the Stags can score. They have three players in their line-up that are hitting a .300, and three others hitting at least a .279.
Freshman outfielder Amanda Ulzheimer is their leading hitter, sporting a .353 batting average, to go along with 17 stolen bases, but senior catcher Tori Reed, who is hitting a .331 with 5 homers and 35 runs batted in, is their best weapon.
Offensively, look for Fairfiled to work the count, put the bat on the ball, play small ball, and maybe look to swipe a bag.
Pitching-wise, the Stags are solid, if unspectacular.
Junior right-hander Destinee Pallotto will enter the regional at 13-11 with a 2.30 ERA. A pitch-to-contact pitcher, Pallotto has only allowed 29 walks in 158 innings.
The problem is, Pallotto will be facing the best hitters she's faced all year this weekend, and there isn't much behind her, with the Fairfield pitching staff sporting an overall team ERA. of 3.72.
Julie Brzezinski, in her 20th year as head coach at Fairfield, has done a really nice job, and will have the Stags ready to compete this weekend.
To be truthful, Fairfield just doesn’t have the depth or firepower that Louisiana, LSU, or McNeese St. will bring into the regional.
That being said, the Stags won’t be intimidated, having been in an NCAA Regional just last year.
The three other teams in the regional can’t take Fairfield lightly, because while it would be an upset if they won just one game this weekend, that one win would be the biggest in their history.
The complete regional schedule is below:
NCAA BATON ROUGE REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 19, 2017
G1: 3 p.m. – McNeese vs. Louisiana
G2: 5:30 p.m. – Fairfield vs. LSU
Saturday, May 20, 2017
G3: 12 p.m. – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
G4: 2:30 p.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
G5: 5 p.m. – Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3
Sunday, May 21, 2017
G6: 1:30 p.m. – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
G7: 4 p.m. – (if necessary) Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6